Relapsing Is Part of the Journey
Overeating and indulging in unhealthy foods resulted in Mogammad Raees Dolley (26) tipping the scales at 137 kilograms when he was at his heaviest. He physically struggled to move with this weight.
Mogammad Raees was born in Cape Town and raised in Lansdowne. He has two sisters, one is five years older and the other is five years younger than he is.
“My mom and dad were married. My father has always worked in sales and my mom worked in a bank. We were a normal family with only small disagreements from time to time.”
As far back as he can remember Mogammad Raees has always struggled with his weight.
“At nursery school, I was already overweight. I have a naturally slow metabolism and I like food and enjoy eating a lot. It’s a recipe for disaster. At primary school, I was teased about my weight and I would fight them because it made me angry. If you came into my class, you would see that I was the one who, out of everybody, was overweight. I would eat more than the average person. My parents would say to me, ‘stop eating so much’ and they would scold me about it. They didn’t put me on a diet though. I liked to eat everything, besides healthy foods. I would go and buy luxuries* or there would be luxuries at home. I wouldn’t eat the vegetable stews that my mother made. It was emotional eating. Eating made me feel good.”
In Grade eight Mogammad Raees decided to make a change.
“I tried to lose weight when I was 14, but my mindset wasn’t right at the time. I restricted my food portion sizes and cut out the luxuries. I was exercising by playing sport. But I was still eating a lot. I was 110 kilograms at that time and 1.8 metres tall. I tried to lose weight again four months later, but you know how it goes, I quit again.”
Mogammad Raees continued to play sports despite his bulkiness.
“I was slow playing sports. But in school, I liked playing cricket because I liked batting. At home, in the street, it was alright to play other sports, because there were a couple of other guys playing who were also overweight. Still, I had a bad body image. I disliked my body. I was differentto other people.
“Even though my mother and sisters also have slow metabolisms and they were overweight too, I never looked at them as less. We all like eating, it is part of our culture. Sweet foods and savoury foods are part of our day-to-day. But when it came to me, every time I looked at myself I felt disgusted.
“When I was 15 years old, the depression started. I think that’s where depression always starts; being different from others. I would isolate myself from people, from friends and from family. When I was young, I would compare myself to other people and that would make me angry. I wouldn’t want to see people.”
High school also proved to be an academic challenge for Mogammad.
“The thing with me is, if I don’t like something, I don’t give it 100%. In Grade 10, my parents recommended certain subjects that I should do. Many of them I did not enjoy.
“In the same year, I started smoking weed. My friends were doing it and I was looking for an escape from how I was feeling. The way weed made me feel became very addictive. It made me eat a lot as well. I read up on it and it said it makes you feel good with the endorphin rush. I smoked every day in Grade 10 and Grade 11. Even though weed made me feel better, it also de-motivated me in all aspects of my life. I stopped playing sports and I failed Grade 11.
“It was a shock to fail a grade. My family was disappointed. My mindset changed after failing. I just told myself I have to pass. I was closer to 137 kilograms at that time. I told my cousin, ‘when I repeat Grade 11 I want to lose weight because of my heart problems, and pain in my ankles and knees.’ At this time, I was having chest pains often, when I walked even short distances I would be short of breath and any type of movement, like tying my shoelaces, would be challenging.
“My cousin and parents said I have to start eating right and to take up a sport. I started weight training, eating better, and walking a lot. I would train three to four times a week. It was painful, stressful and difficult for me. The hardest part was changing my diet. I was eating vegetables, cutting down on carbs, and drinking more water. I was training on my own. It made me feel positive because I was seeing progress. I learned about weight loss through trial and error and by researching weight loss tips on the internet. I also stop smoking weed.
“A month after I started training, I lost five to six kilograms. It was a little weight loss at the time, but it made me feel so happy. Over the next five years, I lost 56 kilograms.
“Since then, I’ve gained confidence, perseverance and I am constantly working in a positive mindset.
“It hasn’t been easy, but it gets better over time. Throughout the years, my weight would sometimes plateau, and on a few occasions, I gained some weight. When that happened I felt down and I wanted to quit, but I kept telling myself, ‘remember why you started. You don’t want to go back to the physical discomfort of being overweight. You want to stay at this fitness level.’”
After he completed matric, Mogammad Raees studied towards a sports science diploma, which he completed.
“It was directly related to my experience. It changed me a lot as a person. I specialized in weight loss. I would motivate my clients the same way that I liked to be motivated. I know the struggles, I know the judgements, and I know how to master it now.”
Mogammad Raees has been able to manage his weight with a realistic plan.
“Over the years, I have learnt what works for me. I can’t go cold turkey with my diet, I need to have two days a week where I can eat junk. This keeps me motivated and I never relapse. I also understand my metabolism, so I am clear about what I can eat in the morning versus what I can eat in the evening. Exercising and water are my day-to-day best friends among other small tricks. I can’t forget the experience of being overweight and I am certain I will never go back.”
When asked for his final remarks, Mogammad Raees said: ‘Don’t quit, and keep going. Relapsing is part of the learning journey. With each fall there are learnings about yourself. Observe what the environmental and/or emotional triggers are that make you fall. When you are aware of your pattern, you will be able to manage it. Begin to manage it by implementing small steps at a time. Be gentle and you will never go back.”
Mogammad Raees is a Life Choices Academy student.
Mogammad Raees is currently offering individual and group training sessions at a competitive rate. Contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org or on Whatsapp: 0823074688
* Luxuries - sweets and other junk snacks.